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Brooke Stoddard Education. (2012) 'World in the Balance The Perilous Months of June-October 1940.'

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France 21, Dunkirk 9, England 8, Us 7, Paris 7, Navy 4, Belgium 4, Somerville 3, Rocky Flats 2, Europe 2, Gensoul 2, Colorado 2, George Mason 2, Churchill 2, Alexandria 2, Portsmouth 2, Plymouth 2, North Africa 2, Brooke Stoddard 2, Egypt 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Brooke Stoddard  Education.  (2012) 'World in the  
   Balance The Perilous Months of June-October 1940.'  

    December 25, 2012
    12:00 - 12:30pm EST  

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>> i did. i spent about seven months and which is several hundred sites to go visit them, make the heights, trying to combine history with recreation. and also public accessibility. i hit all sites that people can go do. not just explore but also take a hike while they're there or jump in a canoe or kayak and have a good time on the river. it's an enormous recreation opportunity for washingtonians and for people visiting the d.c. area. >> hence the subtitle. we're speaking with garrett peck, author of "the potomac river." thanks so much. >> also by the way i have a sql coming out in february 2013 which is called the smithsonian castle. >> great, thanks again. >> brooke stoddard joined booktv at george mason university in virginia to talk about his book, "world in the balance." mr. stoddard was one of the authors appearing at the fall for the book festival, held annually at the university. this is just under half an hour.
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>> you're watching booktv on c-span2. and we are on location at george mason university. every fall. every fall for the book festival called fall for the book, and one of the authors u.s. be at the book festival is brooke stoddard. here is his book, "world in the balance: the perilous months of june-october 1940". brooke stoddard, world war ii started about six months prior to your book. what was happening in europe in june 1940? >> the war had started in september 1939, peter, and germany had overrun poland. hitler's idea at this point was to invade france and knock britain out of the war thereby. with the intent later on to invade the soviet union.
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he hated communism. this is one thing that was really part of his agenda. he was actually going to invade france in the wintertime, ma in november-december. he had to put that off because -- spent of 1939? >> of 1939. because of the invasion plans fell into the hands of the french and the british, soy put off the invasion until may, and he came up with a new plan. the old plant actually had been similar to world war i. it was going to come through belgium, along the channel coast, and down into paris. but he had to completely rearrange that, and he came up with you do, one of his generals, to think through belgium, but send the majority of these armored power through the our danforth further south and coming behind any french and
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british armies that went into belgium once the war started. and this worked perfectly, beginning may 10 of 1940» and the british and the french did what the germans expected, asz soon as the germans went io belgium, the french and the british went in. the armored divisions came in behind, and force really the cream of the french army and the british expeditionary force up to the port of dunkirk. that's what we know as the evacuation of dunkirk. >> before you go any further, when did the british come across the channel into france? >> i think they must have done this, maybe even as early as 1938, or, but certainly after the war in 1939 started. they put the british army next to the french in anticipation of the germans coming.
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of course, by land through the low lands in belgium. so the british army was there in place. and it was really the best that they had. so the fact that they were pushed to dunkirk and forced to evacuate -- >> which is on the channel. >> is on the channel, was a tremendous blow to the british, and to the french. the british of course had to leave the continent across the channel, and the french were then crippled in defense of paris. part of the problem with the dunkirk evacuation by the british was that the left all their equipment in france. they had no time to take their guns, their tanks, their trucks. so the when the british soldiers ended up in southern england after the evacuation, they really only had uniform's on the backs. >> when did that evacuation take
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place? >> it was a late may, and finished -- >> late may 1940? >> first couple days of june. by the second of june it was virtually over. >> for couple weeks into the invasion of france it was over? >> the french -- a lot of the french military felt that they had lost the battle for the country by this done. it actually went on for another several weeks, because the germans had to reset their tanks and aligned themselves and push down towards paris. they hadn't at this point conquered paris, but the french did the best they could, but at this point the writing was certainly on the wall. friends had to drop out of the war. i think it was june 22. so that evacuation was over by the second of june. it was really another two or three weeks to go in france.
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>> so how do that evacuation from dunkirk take place? what happened? >> as i said, the german plan worked very, very well. were a little bit astonished themselves at how quickly things happened. and in the first part of the attack, the british and the french thought they could contain it, but the germans were moving so swiftly and there was considerable amount of chaos among the allied armies that they soon realized they had to fall back on the channel ports. now, if my -- is my supposition, i haven't seen this anywhere, but the german army mindset is that when you're pushed against an ocean, you are finished. but the british are an island nation, so when they're pushed against an ocean, they see a
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highway, a path. they don't see it as a barrier. and, of course, the mythos of the dunkirk evacuation is all the little dots and the ferries, and this is true, they came out and they took soldiers back to england. it was about a 20-mile trip at its shortest. when it looked like the evacuation was going to start, churchill told the king, we'll be lucky if we get about 17,000 soldiers back. that's the way it looks. >> out of? >> about half a million, 500,000 french and british. instead of 17,000, they got about 340,000 men back to britain. a number of these were french and then went right back to france to help with the defense of other parts of france. but that's what called the miracle of dunkirk. they thought it was going to be
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much, much worse than it was. but they were lucky, they were lucky and some of the ways. >> your book bill focuses on june to october of 1940. >> yes. >> after the evacuation from dunkirk, what happened? does hitler attacked britain at that point? to the british fight back? what? >> the germans followed their plan, and maybe that was a mistake. at least one german general, and i think even hermann goering, said at the time of dunkirk, let's forget about paris for a little while. let's put as many troops as we can into england. fly them over there, seized the airfield. the shock might be so great that the british government will cave in or negotiate your instead what the germans did was, of
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course they stop at the ocean. then he turned south and they wanted to knock france out of the war, which is what they did. they entered paris on june 16, i think. the government in paris led to the south. they were practically in a different city every day. and churchill hoped and pleaded with the french to continue fighting. both countries have pledged, one to another, that they would not drop out of the war and make a separate peace, unless they were released from this pledge by the other. the french began to think that they would want to make a separate peace, and they began to talk to the british about this. churchill said no, we can't release you from that pledge. we want you to keep fighting all the way down to the mediterranean, if you have to. and if you have to across the mediterranean, keep fighting from north africa.
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and a big part of the reason was that the french fleet was a very, very large fleet. many battleships to it was the fourth largest navy in the world. and churchill was very worried that if france was conquered, then hitler would see these the french fleet. and the arithmetic was if you put the german fleet, which was considerable. they had the bismarck coming along, together with the italian fleet which was an ally of the germans and at a considerable fleet in the mediterranean, if you then put that together with the french fleet which was the fourth largest fleet in the world, now you have a navy that was larger than the british fleet. and if that happened, it's a game set and match for britain. they couldn't have controlled the sea lanes to the island. it was going to be over. so churchill implored him to keep fighting because he was worried about the french
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battleships. but the french army was totally in disarray. very overwhelmingly conquered, and a certain element in france decided it was better to try to come to an agreement if it was the germans about how they could then drop out of the war. an interesting little tale is that, when this element began to grow in france, because the government was flinging and it was very chaotic, and france was saying we need to drop out, we need to make an accommodation with the germans, two french men approached the british and said, why don't we make one country of france and britain? if we did that, france would have to continue fighting because it would be a part of britain. so there was this notion that
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france and england would be a united union. they were calling it the country. and national union that would have two parliaments, one more cabinet, and every citizen of france will be a citizen of britain. churchill was a little skeptical at first, but then he went to the cabin and he said we can't be accused here of not having an imagination. so let's propose this. and it actually was, it was presented to the french cabinet, but not all that seriously. by the time it came up it was really too late. so france conducted an armistice with the germans, and came to what we know as the agreement that sets up the she government in the southern part of the country -- vichy. the germans on to by the northern part, the northern
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two-thirds of the country along with all of the atlantic coast. spent an essential left in place the lower third, the vichy government, correct? >> they wanted a government to govern that part of the country, and also the colonies in north africa and southeast asia. they didn't want to be distracted by that. so part of the agreement was, you said that this government, which is expected to be friendly toward them, because they were only negotiate with people who are more or less friendly to the idea. so yeah, but essentially was you take care of that part of the country, you take care of the colonies, and let us worry about everything else. so it's kind of a new world flow, not exactly new world order but a new nazi order inqdf europe are.qesgqdcq >> so, brooke stoddard, yousrçzz fleet.sd the french who ended up getting control ofj
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the french fleet? >> it's interesting, because hitler understood this fear that the british had, just as well as the british did, that the french navy was a very, very important piece of the global situation. and he wanted france to drop out of the war their key didn't want them to continue fighting. he didn't want the french ships to keep attacking them. so he made the terms with the french strong terms, but he also allowed some negotiation or terms that they would accept. he thought if he made them too strong, too strict, they would say forget it, we're going to keep fighting. but the term for the french navy was this, the agreement said that the friendships would
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remain neutral under the supervision of the germans and the italians. and the french could use certain vessels for coastal defense, something like that. but to the french, that was okay, we've kept our agreement and a way with the british. we pledged they would never get the friendships. this agreement said they would always be neutral. in other words, them the british can happen, the germans can't happen. they will be in mothballs. well, the british look at this and they said, neutral under the supervision of the germans and the italians. we don't trust that for a minute. if we learned anything about hitler and the last five years is that he is a lawyer. he doesn't keep his promises. he says one thing and does another. and what if things get desperate? he was just sending crews to seize the ships and use them
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against us. so the british came up with an idea to seize as many friendships as they possibly could, a very secret operation. and this was within days of the french-german agreement of jun june 22. and the idea was that where the french ships might of been in british courts, because some of them have escaped or scattered, somewhere in portsmouth, england, plymouth, england. a lot were in alexandria, egypt, where the french, or the british had a large fleet. and the two biggest but not quite finished battleships of the french fled to the car west africa and casablanca. but there was a very large hotel in a place called, on the
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algerian coast but for a couple of battleships, some big cruisers. and the british came up with this idea, they called it operational catapult. on the morning of july 3, they were going to seize as many friendships as they possibly could by agreement, hopefully, but if not, by force. and they figured in portsmouth and plymouth, england, this would be fairly easy because these ports are surrounded by british ships and british coastal batteries and that kind of thing. and in alexandria, egypt, kind of the same thing because there was a british port with british ports and big guns and british fleet around. there was a different situation because there was only a french flotilla, a french naval base, and the admiralty which is the british naval command radioed,
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of course in code, to the fleet in gibraltar, and they said this is what you have to do. you have to sail through the night of july 2 and 3rd, and show up at dawn. and give our terms to the french fleet. and the terms were, or were going to be, you were our loyal allies in the fight against the germans, up until just days ago. sail out of the port and join us in the fight against the germans. if you can't do that, give us your ships. we will sell them with the british sailors and give them back to you when the war is over. if you can't do that, say of the friendships that you have here to the caribbean, to martinique,
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and the americans will assure their neutrality during the war. if you can't do that, we regret to have to ask you to scuttle your ships within six hours. and if you can't do that, we will take whatever means necessary to prevent them falling into the hands of the germans, which everybody knew -- [inaudible] it came out of the admiralty, but churchill's stand was all over it. he had been twice lord of the admiralty. he thought in terms of ships and navies, and strategic possibilities with ships. so he was very keen on this. >> so how do that and? >> the admiral in gibraltar discuss it with his captains. some of whom were friends with the french admiral that they would have to attack him and they radioed back through england, to the abaco and they said we think this is a terrible
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idea. is going to alienate french every. they will hate us. you can't do this. and if you don't mind, let me read the admiralty's letter back. it was the eating of the second and this has firm intention of his majesty's government, that if the french do not accept any of your alternatives they are to be destroyed. so admiral somerville from gibraltar sales out with his flotilla, one of the ships was the hms hood, later destroyed by the bismarck. so it was a big flotilla. and during the night when they were sailing, churchill since somerville this message. churchill to somerville, you are charged with one of the most disagreeable and difficult tasks that a british admiral has ever been faced with. but we have complete confidence in you and rely on you to carry it out relentlessly. so this is really hardball.
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what happened was the fleet showed up outside the harbor at dawn. a friend of admiral gensoul, the french admiral, came to resent him the terms. he was furious. he was also under orders not to obey any foreign power, meaning british. >> orders from whom? >> from his own government. a government had now changed. he was under orders from the vichy government, which was -- >> german controlled. >> yeah, friendly to the germans. but there was, it was more than orders. because if gensoul had said okay, i like the british in this war, we want to fight the nazis, and given to the ships over to the british fleet, that would've violated the agreement between the french and the germans, and then hitler would've said you violated the agreement, now i can do anything i want. and he had a million and a half
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drenched prisoners of war. he could've made slaves out of all of them. he could've dismantled factories in france. so gensoul was in a very, very tough place. he radioed his own admiralty and said what can i do? they said, we will send reinforcements from france, stall for time. those messages were interrupted, or intercepted by the british and decoded. so churchill knew what was going on. sommerville kept telling him, i have deadlines, i have deadlines community tell me what you're going to do. gensoul kept stalling. at 6:00, the british open fire. and they sank a number of french ships, including a very large battleship, killed about 1300 french sailors. so it was a great tragedy. churchill understood it was a great tragedy. and it's not discussed very much
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when the battle of britain is discussed because the battle of britain, people think of the mesha schmitz and the spit fire, and the british don't we like to talk about it or the french like to talk about it. but it actually had a very important impact. the americans were solicited time and again to send arms to the british. churchill was very emphatic about this. he wanted the destroyers. he won all kinds of guns to make up for the guns of the british army had left in france. and the americans were skeptical. first, there were neutrality laws but there were also very strong isolationist sentiment in america. and even george marshall, who was chief military advisor to franklin roosevelt said, how can we send all these weapons to england if they're going to surrender to the british in a matter of weeks, and we end up fighting the germans?
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we will be charging into the face of our own weapons. but even though the operation was secret, it became headlines of course when it happened around the world. and everyone knew about it. and roosevelt and marshall were very, very effected by this. they thought if the british government can do this, they are serious. they are not going to negotiate with the germans. they're going to stay in this for as long as they possibly can. and it opened up the pathway for armaments to go to britain, which were very much needed and very much appreciated. >> brooke stoddard, when the official date of the so-called battle for britain, battle of britain? >> when were they? i think britain calls it july to the end of september, let's say. >> of 1940, which is essentially
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-- >> that's right. >> the segment of your book, final question. let people read other stories in your but what happened to admiral gensoul? >> you know, i don't know. his fleet of course was very heavily damaged and it never went to the germans. probably were not ever use by the british. gensoul state i couldn't tell you. he might have just sent out the war. spent brooke stoddard is the author of "world in the balance the perilous months of june-october 1940". published by potomac books. this is booktv on c-span2. >> tell us what you think about our program this weekend. you can tweet us at booktv, comment on our facebook wall or send us an e-mail. the tv, nonfiction books every weekend on c-span2.
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>> growing up in a nuclear shadow is a book about my childhood in colorado. i grew up about seven miles from the rocky flats nuclear weapons plant. and actually our first house was about seven miles away, and then in 1969 we moved to a subdivision which was closer to the plant, about three, three and a half miles away from rocky flats. my sisters and brother and i, we have an idea what childhood innocence that we had horses and dogs and with the time outdoors riding our horses in the field around the plant, and swimming in the lake. we never knew what went on at rocky flats. we had no idea what it really was. and we have no idea of the environmental contamination that was happening in the area. a number of different things in
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environment that we had no idea. later, many kids in my neighborhood, i worked at the plant myself. got a sense of what it's like to be on the inside of the plant. there was one evening when i came home, from work at rocky flats, and turned on the television and it was a show on "nightline" that it was an exposé of what was really happening at the plant. and it was the first time that a really have an awareness, really have an understanding of what was happening at rocky flats and how extent -- extraordinary the contamination was but it was on that day i decided to quit my job at rocky flats come at the day i decided i would write a book about it. it took me about 10 years of research and writing to pull the story together. and i wanted to write a book that reads like a novel, but is very heavily footnoted come everything in the book is factual. so you can check back and see
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where the information comes from. but i wanted to write this story from the perspective of all of the different kinds of people whose lives have been affected by rocky flats. not just residents like me and my family, but workers at rocky flats, some of the activists, all the different people, thousands and thousands of people in colorado and beyond who are affected by rocky flats. another reason why i feel very passionate about this story is that there is, we are, we continue to deal with the legacy of our nuclear weapons production in this country in so many different ways. environmental legacy and then also the cultural legacy of how important this plant was, and the way it affected people, people who were not aware how they were being affected. when i went to the plant, it was very common for workers, we called ourselves cold war warriors. those are the people who fight on the lines, but for the people who grew up near rocky flats. we also were cold war warriors. no one told us we did know what
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was happening at the plan. the rumor and the neighborhood was that the plant was operated by dow chemicals and the rumor was they were making household cleaning supplies. my mother thought they were making scrubbing bubbles, and was really apparent for quite a long time what was actually going on. and what happened at rocky flats now is that there has been a cleanup, a very controversial cleanup, the controversial levels of contamination remaining in the soil, and 1300 acres of this site are so profoundly contaminated that they can never ever be opened for human habitation. and the rest of the site is slated to open at the national wildlife refuge for hiking and biking and possibly even hunting. so they're still a great deal of contamination on the site and there's a lot of homebuilding and shopping malls and highways and all sorts of things going on out there. ..

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